- From the Editor
This volume has been a long time in the making. Ever since the first “Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity” conference at the University of Kansas in 1995 (and no doubt even earlier), there has been talk of establishing an English-language late antique journal to complement the primarily French-language L’antiquité tardive, first issued in 1993 and for a long time the only scholarly journal anywhere devoted explicitly to the study of Late Antiquity. It was felt that even though Late Antiquity had become recognized and established as a legitimate area of study in its own right, it did not yet have a sufficient presence in the periodical literature. Ancient, Classical, and Medieval Studies were represented by legions of journals, but Late Antiquity was not.
Late Antiquity as a field with its own idiosyncratic identity has come a long way in the last thirty years. With regard to chronological affiliation, many of us now consider ourselves to be “late antique,” whereas in days gone by we would have been “late Roman,” “early Byzantine,” “early Medieval,” “late Latin,” “patristic,” and so on. But the dearth of late antique journals has meant that when it comes to publishing our research, we have been compelled to hitchhike on other disciplines’ coattails, and to publish in classical, or ancient history, or medieval, or philological, or archaeological, or religious, etc., journals. Although this is not a bad thing, and serves to expose persons working in other periods and disciplines to work in Late Antiquity, it also conveys the implicit impression that Late Antiquity is an add-on to or a sub-field of these other disciplines or chronological periods, rather than having an identity of its own. The existence of a journal is the single indicator par excellence demonstrating the accepted significance of an area of study, and provides a starting point for non-specialists to begin their studies of a period or discipline. All of which considerations provided increasing incentives for the creation of a journal.
Thus, after 1995, there arose an increasing consensus that for a field as vital and expanding as ours, one journal just was not enough. Plans to create an English-language journal of Late Antiquity began to take concrete shape at the “Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity” conference held at Santa Barbara in March 2003, where an overwhelming majority of those in attendance supported the creation of a journal under the sponsorship of the Society for Late Antiquity. A committee led by Ralph Mathisen was appointed to make a proposal to various presses. There was an encouraging response. Several major presses expressed serious interest, and proposals were presented and discussed at the following Shifting Frontiers meeting at the University of Illinois [End Page 1] in Urbana-Champaign in 2005, where the proposal from the Johns Hopkins University Press was formally accepted.
There followed the creation of several editorial boards, the solicitation of contributions, and extensive collaboration with the press regarding journal formatting and editorial procedures. Ralph Mathisen undertook a five-year term as the first Editor. Scott Bradbury, Noel Lenski, and Claudia Rapp were named Associate Editors, and Michael Kulikowski, Richard Lim, Hagith Sivan, and Dennis Trout undertook the onerous task of Book Review Editors. A host of other scholars of Late Antiquity undertook duties on the Advisory Board and as Consulting Editors (as cited in the front matter of this volume).
By necessity and design, JLA will be multi- and interdisciplinary, covering the late Roman, western European, North African, Byzantine, Sassanid, and Islamic worlds, ca. ad 200–800 (i.e. the late and post-classical world up to the beginning of the Carolingian period). We feel that it is important to provide space for scholarship dealing with both practical and theoretical issues, to be broadly interdisciplinary, and to bridge the gap between literary and material culture scholarship (our ability to publish illustrations allows us to provide a publication venue for art historians and archaeologists). Within these broad parameters, we want to be as inclusive as possible: we have no hidden agenda, and no intention of taking sides with regard to the manifold possible interpretations of what Late Antiquity connotes; we rather wish...